At first glance, tennis star Serena Williams and the late activist Erica Garner don’t have much in common. They lived different lives on different ends of the socioeconomic spectrum.
But as black women in America, they both shared horrifying stories due to complications from childbirth.
Our country spends more on health care than any other high-income country — but still holds the worst record for maternal mortality in the developed world.
This maternal health crisis is driven by the high rates of African-American women who die while pregnant or within one year of the end of a pregnancy. Black mothers die at three to four times the rate of white mothers due to pregnancy-related complications.
While existing health disparities can add to the risk, one recent study found that racism is a major driver of the gap.
An issue brief published by the Center for American Progress suggests that stress induced by racial discrimination plays a significant role in the high rates of black women’s maternal mortality.
This trend remains consistent across all education levels and socioeconomic statuses, putting all black pregnant women at risk — from Serena Williams to Erica Garner — regardless of their income and health care access.
As one of the world’s top athletes, Serena Williams takes magnificent care of her physical health. In a Vogue piece on her childbirth experience, her pregnancy was described as “enviably easy.” But things took a turn for the worse the day after Williams’ daughter was born by an emergency C-section
After Williams suddenly felt short of breath, doctors discovered that she had several blood clots settled in her lungs, leading to a six-day health scare that included her fresh C-section wound opening up, internal bleeding in her abdomen, and the tennis star ultimately spending her first six weeks of motherhood unable to get out of bed.
Erica Garner, a 27 year old activist, became nationally known after her father, Eric Garner, was killed by Daniel…